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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Modern Sports Cards - 1980 Topps to the Present

The card collecting hobby really started gaining popularity in the late seventies and by the eighties most people began to realize that baseball cards had value. As a result, kids stopped putting the cards between the spokes of the wheels of their bikes and instead placed them in protective plastic sleeves. Mothers no longer threw out the cards. Topps began making huge profits, and (most importantly) many card companies emerged and started printing many more cards. Collectors bought the cards by the case for investment purposes. Life was good!

The problem is the value of cards is directly dependent on the economic factors of supply and demand that I have referred to throughout this article. The demand for these cards is fine, but the supply is hundreds of times higher than that of earlier cards. The number of cards printed each year is greater than the total number of cards produced before 1980. In 1990's, there were years that almost 500 sets of sports cards issued .

The result is that cards issued after 1980 are almost worthless! I personally do not think that this will change anytime this century. There are just too many cards and the demand will not catch up to the supply anytime soon. People have begun throwing away cards again!

As far as the current issues of cards go, I heard one dealer say that “New Cards have the shelf life of produce.” There are so many sets issued every year that the collectors are not sure what to collect. While they have value today, they are nearly worthless when the next year's card is issued. The point is this: go ahead and buy the new cards (and PLEASE encourage your kids to collect them), enjoy them and have fun with them, but it is probably not a good move to buy them as an investment.

This comes as a terrible shock to many people. After all, a baseball card is a baseball card — right? Unfortunately the answer is “No”. If you have cards from the eighties or nineties, your best option is to keep them and enjoy them or donate the cards to charity and take the tax deduction. Every year, we donate hundreds of thousands of these baseball cards to Goodwill. I have no idea what they do with them, but I would guess that most get thrown away.

There are a few cards from the eighties that Dean's Cards can purchase. We will buy complete sets from 1985 or earlier and any of the Reprint or Replica Sets of the older cards. We will also buy the Rookie Cards of the Super Stars from 1985 and earlier.

To avoid hurting feelings (and also being misquoted), one last comment is needed. Collectors tend to be very sentimental about their boyhood cards and tend to get dented emotionally when they discover these cards are worthless. After all, back in the 1980's there were even publications on which cards to buy as investments. At the time, there was even talk of a Baseball Card Limited Partnership that would speculate by purchasing cards! I am not sure if it ever came to pass, but it helps provide insight into the mental attitude of the time.

If you bought 1980's cards as an investment and just knew that one day they would be worth a pile of money, please do not feel too bad. Many of us did the exact same thing, but it just did not work out. Today, there are thousands of unopened cases of late 1980's and 1990's cards. It is extremely unlikely, that the demand will ever catch up with the supply enough to allow these cards to appreciate to the value levels that the vintage cards enjoy.

We had one collector write us an angry e-mail and tell us how wrong we were and that his 1980's cards did have value. (He probably had been resisting his wife's attempt to unload them for years while telling her that the cards were worth a fortune!) He said that “The cards do have value and that some of the star cards were selling on eBay for as much as a dollar.”

Okay. He was technically correct. Some of these cards do eventually sell for about a dollar. The problem is that there is often dozens of that same card selling for a dollar. This means that you may have to list it several times (at a cost of 35 cents a listing) to get a buyer. This does not take into account the time it takes to scan and list the card. So, technically the cards do have some value. But it would be very hard to cover your expenses when trying to sell them.

I am not saying this to be mean or cruel, but only for the purpose of providing potential sellers with accurate and realistic information. We often come across people who have literally spent months of their time sorting and cataloging thousands of cards only to discover that the collection is worthless.

When Dean's Cards does buy modern sports cards, we just buy them on eBay.  The cards are cheap and we do not have to worry about hurt feelings of the sellers.  T

If you are looking to sell your cards, please contact Dean